It had been a busy few weeks and Alice had had no time to return to the garden behind the green door since she had first discovered it. School work hadn’t been going so well; she had been going to extra Maths in her breaks because she was falling behind. Her confidence in her Maths ability was quite low, so she was working harder and harder to try and get encouragement and praise from her teachers.
Life at home was also very busy. She had been trying to make things better for her mum; bringing her cups of tea, helping do the cleaning, keeping quiet. She hadn’t even told her mum that Alistair had lost her favourite CD because she didn’t want to make a fuss. She was also really worried because her mum had to go to the hospital soon for some tests.
In Footprints they had been learning about their Adapting space. Alice felt she was often in her Adapting Space, trying to fit in and make things better. At the end of one lesson her teacher, Mr James, asked her to stay behind. She was worried she had done something wrong, but Mr James was careful and concerned about her, using Yellow Footprints. He had noticed she looked a bit down. “Is there anything you are anxious about Alice?” he enquired gently.
“Not really Mr James, I’m fine,” she lied. “Honest!” She didn’t want to worry her teacher, so she emphasised her words and forced a smile. Mr James told her kindly that she didn’t have to hold all her worries in; she could always talk to him.
Later that day, as she walked home alone through the park, she found herself passing the small, green door behind the shrubs. Perhaps her mum wouldn’t mind if she was a few minutes late?
A moment later, she was inside the garden. The air was fresh and clear. She could see immediately that the garden had changed. Someone had been very busy in the allotment patch. There were lots of young plants trying to grow up. But she could see they had all been crammed in too close together to grow. Plants labelled ‘Helping at home’ were buried under those labelled ‘Trying hard at school’, which were struggling against the ‘Pleasing others’ shoots.
Then she noticed that the watering can labelled ‘Praise and encouragement’ was completely empty; maybe that’s why some of the plants had wilted and dried out. And also, greedy Worry Slugs had eaten some of the lettuces. Oh dear!
She decided this was definitely her Adapting Space, where she was trying to provide all the things people would like her to. In her Adapting Space she was trying to make things better, trying to follow other people’s advice and listen to them. She didn’t have confidence in her own ideas but she did have confidence in other people’s. So, she kept planting new plants to try to please other people. She was worn out trying to water all the plants and keep the slugs away!
She sat down in her Adapting Space feeling upset and confused.
“Hello Alice,” came a voice from behind her. “I’ve been wondering when you would be back.” She looked round; the voice came from a smiling man with a weathered looking face. He must be the owner of the garden she thought.
“No, I’m not the owner. You are! This is your garden, it’s YOUR Space. I’m just here to help things grow. Now, let’s have a look at these lovely vegetables you have been growing for other people in your Adapting Space. Very generous of you Miss Alice.....You just need to have a little more confidence in making your own decisions about what to plant; at the moment you seem to be planting what other people tell you plant.”
The kindly gardener helped Alice to choose the plants in her Adapting Space that SHE wanted to grow rather than all the ones other people wanted her to grow. They gave those plants some water whilst they cleared the Worry Slugs. Then he sent her home with two lovely lettuces and some broad beans for tea.
“Remember,” he called after her, “have confidence in your OWN decisions!”
When she arrived home, Alice’s mum greeted her with a big hug.
“Alice! I’ve been meaning to thank you for all the help you’ve been giving me. But you don’t have to worry- we’ve got a cleaner starting on Monday, so I’ll have more time to spend with you! Now, tell me what you’ve been doing today?”
Alice thought about keeping her garden a secret, but then decided to trust herself and her mum. She told her mum about the garden, and especially about her Adapting Space. Her mum asked if she could help water the plants in Alice’s Adapting Space; Alice said she could. Her mum also said she’d like to explore other parts of Alice’s garden too.
Later that night, in bed, Alice thought to herself that Adapting Space was great; but she also decided she was looking forward to discovering her other Spaces!